Race + Cartoons: DC Keeps Bane ‘real’ in Young Justice

By Arturo R. García

In a happy coincidence, one of DC Comics’ more talked-about characters last week, Bane, made another appearance in cartoon form over the weekend, as one of the featured villains in the company’s new Young Justice show – with voice-acting done by Danny Trejo, no less.

(Not saying I called this, but … I am just saying.)

Trejo’s performance underscored at least one good reason why his ethnicity matters. The opening sequence saw the character communicating bilingually without a hitch.  – well, almost. The Spanish-language dialogue Trejo was asked to deliver was cringe-worthy; Andrew R. Robinson, who is credited with the script, should have done better than merely “translating” English dialogue.

But I digress. The Bane we met here carried himself and spoke like what you would imagine a native Santa Priscan would. Like all of the character’s other animated incarnations, he bore no hint of a British accent, and his lucha libre-style mask concealed his face. This character is a Latino. And as I’ve written before, if Tom Hardy is asked to “do an accent,” it’s not going to help his case when The Dark Knight Rises is released.

The episode was also notable for showing viewers a more clearly-defined role for one of the series’ original characters, Aqualad. After the YJ team nearly blows its’ mission on Santa Prisca, it comes together after voting to appoint Aqualad, the oldest and most clear-headed member, team leader. It’s a nice touch, too, that the character is voiced by a POC, Khary Payton. It should also be pointed out that with his hair grown out, Payton sort of resembles the Aqualad currently appearing in comic-book continuity.

So far, so good, except for one misstep: after being named leader, Aqualad spends about a minute assuring Robin (and presumably the viewers) that the Boy Wonder “was born” to lead the team. Considering that, so far, Robin has only taken after Batman’s worst habits – impulsiveness and outright arrogance – it’s a bit much to swallow only three episodes into the series. But, at least Aqualad is in charge for right now. And maybe, if he catches on on this show, his comics counterpart can find the same kind of success. Here’s to hoping.

Top image courtesy of Toonbarn

About This Blog

Racialicious is a blog about the intersection of race and pop culture. Check out our daily updates on the latest celebrity gaffes, our no-holds-barred critique of questionable media representations, and of course, the inevitable Keanu Reeves John Cho newsflashes.

Latoya Peterson (DC) is the Owner and Editor (not the Founder!) of Racialicious, Arturo García (San Diego) is the Managing Editor, Andrea Plaid (NYC) is the Associate Editor. You can email us at team@racialicious.com.

The founders of Racialicious are Carmen Sognonvi and Jen Chau. They are no longer with the blog. Carmen now runs Urban Martial Arts with her husband and blogs about local business. Jen can still be found at Swirl or on her personal blog. Please do not send them emails here, they are no longer affiliated with this blog.

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